HC Deb 26 November 1986 vol 106 cc251-2
5. Sir Russell Johnston

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration his Department has given to providing assistance to the ski development at Aonach Mor in Lochaber; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lang

A thorough assessment has been undertaken. We now await a response from the sponsoring bodies to the questions raised by the Industry Department for Scotland.

Sir Russell Johnston

Such a response is on its way to the Minister. Is he aware that there is great disappointment in Lochaber that the delay in reaching a decision has already cost a year of this project? Can the Minister assure me that, in making the decision, he will take into account not only the notional cost per job but the economic activity in Lochaber, and more widely in Scotland, which the Highlands and Islands Development Board and the Scottish Development Agency believe the scheme would generate?

Mr. Lang

We shall certainly take those points into account. When I tell the hon. Gentleman that the proportion of public funding for this project would be about 84 per cent.—£4.8 million out of a total cost of £5.7 million—and that the cost per job would be a minimum of about £60,000, and possibly as much as £80,000, he will realise that it is important to study the matter closely.

Sir Hector Monro

Does my hon. Friend agree that there are few places in Scotland where regular skiing is possible? That being so, will he do everything that he can, through the Highlands and Islands Development Board, the Scottish Development Agency and local authorities, in consultation with conservation bodies, to provide better skiing facilities in Scotland in the interests of tourism and so that the Scots can have good recreational facilities themselves?

Mr. Lang

We are keen to encourage the development of skiing in the north of Scotland wherever this can reasonably be achieved. We must consider such development closely, since so much public funding is required for a specific project.

Mr. Ron Brown

Ski development at Lochaber or elsewhere may be important, but is it not barbaric that prisoners Kinnon and Smith are placed in cages—

Mr. Speaker

Order. There is a further question to which the hon. Gentleman could easily attach that supplementary question. He cannot attach it to the question that is now before the House.

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